Sunday, March 02, 2003

I don't know what my response is supposed to be; in-between the sneaker ads, half naked girls and glib ponitification on politics, I read this.

What to make of Anthony Swofford? Is there a difference between him and the negro thugs television pundits howl about on talk shows? Is it possible for a fascist to write well? Of course it is. It's hypocrites who make bad artists and not all fascists are hypocrites, though their leaders generally are.

Deep down I can only say I don't care one way or another. There have been honest soldiers before, born to explain to the well-meaning and naive what life is really about. But there's a limit to a soldier's sophistication. In the end you have to leave the armor behind if you want to get something interesting done. I can shrug off the writing not because he doesn't write well or honestly but because given the circumstances he doesn't write well enough or with enough complexity for me to overcome distaste. And the only way he could do that would be by having a more subtle understanding of his subject. What would his response be if the war were not temporary and in a foreign place, but permanent and in his homeland?

This marks the difference for example between Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, the difference between a violent and abstract ideology and a struggle for survival. The rhetoric of Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah doesn't have the fascist overtones of Al Qaeda because for them the war has never been an abstraction but a presence in their lives. They understand the sadness of war, the sadness of a violence they did not choose. Osama Bin Laden and Anthony Swofford chose violence. That's why I can have contempt for both.